The Oscars might best be viewed as an annual rite practiced by the American film industry once a year, an anthropology starting with the culture of wranglers, the young people’s job it is to get the right star to the right seat, the right journalists, and the right limo once the event is over. Usually they do, but now and then there’s a catastrophe, as when Larry wandered off to the bathroom during the Golden Globes, leaving Diana to fend for herself against the little man in the pressroom responsible for corralling the awardees in front of the sea of journalists who photograph and interrogate the winners. This was the year we won the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay and Diana won the Golden Globe for Best Film for BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, a year when we participated in nearly twenty awards dinners. The Oscar atmosphere is much more controlled than the Globes; we liken it to graduation compared with the senior prom: one is all pomp, circumstance and at times pseudo-somber; the other is party time.
The Oscars is of course black tie. Larry owns a fine tuxedo but insisted on wearing his formal coat, shirt and tie with Levis and Stewart boots, a “Texas tux,” based upon some vain hope to remain comfortable for the four-hour duration of the ceremony. He was probably the first person to wear jeans to the Oscars, a novelty which garnered much attention from the press. Stars in expensive gowns found themselves being ignored while the reporters talked to us.
Once inside the Kodak Theatre, experienced Oscar attendees made sure they knew where the bathrooms were located. Getting out to the loo is no problem, but only at specific intervals can one return to one’s seat. The Oscars have a planetary audience, none of whom should ever spot an empty seat, thus the presence of seat fillers, persons hired to sit in for nominees when nature calls.
Jon Stewart was the host that year. He remarked that he had no idea one could wear jeans to the Academy Awards, a comment that annoyed our friend Tom Hanks moments before he stepped on stage to announce the winner for Best Director.
Diana told Larry a few weeks before the Oscar ceremony that she didn’t think BROKEBACK was going to win Best Picture. She had her reasons, which she might divulge someday, but she didn’t divulge them to Larry. Jack Nicholson handed out the Best Picture Oscar that year. When he opened the envelope revealing that the winner was CRASH, he was so startled that he visibly mouthed the “F” word. Afterwards, he told us he voted for BROKEBACK and had expected to kiss Diana, but instead he kissed Paul Haggis.
In accepting our Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for BROKEBACK, Larry thanked the booksellers of the world. As we walked out, George Clooney said, “Hello, Larry.” He was seated with the powerful CAA agent Bryan Lourd.
To Larry, it felt like his moment of fame: he scarcely knew either man.
But he had an Oscar.
– Larry & Diana